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It is possible that the main title of the report Dermatomyositis is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • ADM
  • Childhood dermatomyositis
  • Idiopathic inflammatory myopathy
  • IIM
  • Polymyositis

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Dermatomyositis is a progressive connective tissue disorder characterized by inflammatory and degenerative changes of the muscles and skin. Associated symptoms and physical findings may vary widely from case to case. Muscle abnormalities may begin with aches and weakness of the muscles of the trunk, upper arms, hips, and thighs (proximal muscles). Muscles may be stiff, sore, and tender and, eventually, show signs of degeneration (atrophy). Affected individuals may experience difficulty in performing certain functions, such as raising their arms and/or climbing stairs. In addition, affected individuals may experience speech and swallowing difficulties.

Skin abnormalities associated with dermatomyositis often include a distinctive reddish-purple rash (heliotrope rash) on the upper eyelids, across the cheeks and bridge of the nose in a "butterfly" distribution, the forehead, or additional skin regions; scaling and degenerative (atrophic) changes of affected skin on the extending surfaces of the knuckles, elbows, knees, and/or other regions (Gottron's sign); an abnormal accumulation of fluid (edema) in body tissues surrounding the eyes; and/or other features.

The symptoms of childhood dermatomyositis are similar to those associated with the adult form of the disorder. However, onset is usually more sudden. In addition, abnormal accumulations of calcium deposits (calcifications) in muscle and skin tissues as well as involvement of the digestive (gastrointestinal [GI]) tract are more common in the childhood form of dermatomyositis.

Although the exact cause of dermatomyositis is not known, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder.

Supporting Organizations

American Autoimmune & Related Diseases

22100 Gratiot Ave.
Eastpointe, MI 48021
Tel: (586)776-3900
Fax: (586)776-3903
Tel: (800)598-4668

Arthritis Foundation

1330 West Peachtree Street, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30309
Tel: (404)872-7100
Tel: (800)283-7800

AutoImmunity Community


Autoimmune Information Network, Inc.

PO Box 4121
Brick, NJ 8723
Fax: (732)543-7285

Child Neurology Foundation

201 Chicago Ave, #200
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Tel: (952)641-6100
Fax: (952)881-6276
Tel: (877)263-5430

Cure JM Foundation

826 Lynwood Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024
Tel: (760)487-1079
Fax: (760)230-2243

European Society for Immunodeficiencies

1-3 rue de Chantepoulet
Geneva, CH 1211
Tel: 410229080484
Fax: 41229069140

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311

Muscular Dystrophy Association

3300 East Sunrise Drive
Tucson, AZ 85718-3208
Tel: (520)529-2000
Fax: (520)529-5300
Tel: (800)572-1717

Myositis Association

1737 King Street
Suite 600
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (703)299-4850
Fax: (703)535-6752
Tel: (800)821-7356

Myositis Support Group

146 Newtown Road
Southampton, S019 9HR
United Kingdom
Tel: 2380449708
Fax: 2380396402

Myositis Support Group at the Hospital for Special Surgery

2nd Floor Conference Center, Room A
535 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021
Tel: (212)774-7623
Fax: (212)774-2333

NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Information Clearinghouse
One AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Tel: (301)495-4484
Fax: (301)718-6366
Tel: (877)226-4267

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated:  12/26/1969
Copyright  2007 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.